Heeeelloooo, heelloo, hello (that’s meant to be an echo)
Today was definitely one of our coolest days in NZ. After staying in Rotorua for the night we made our way to Taupo. This place is famous for all kinds of activities but specifically it is famous for Tongariro National Park which has one the of the Great Walks of the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
This crossing is 19km long and passes over 3 different volcanoes: Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Tongariro. Mount Ruapehu is too high for the crossing (covered in snow) so we hiked around the base of it. Mount Ngauruhoe is also a very famous mountain and draws lots of hikers and tourists because it is the famous ‘Mount Doom’ from LOTR.
Having a little bit of back ground knowledge of the hike and knowing it was one of the Great Walks, Rachel and I had it on our list of things to do while staying in Taupo. Our bus driver from the Kiwi Experience arranged it for all passengers on the bus who wanted to partake in the hike for just $65.00 (ouch who knew you had to pay so much to hike!?).
We were instructed to wake up at 4:30am (yawn) to make the bus that would take us to the entrance of the hike at 5:30 (it was an hour and twenty minute drive so we could snooze a bit on the drive).
Upon arrival our driver gave us the run down – what to do, what not to do, the temperature and forecast (cloudy and -4 celsius – nice). We started our hike (ps with no coffee) and were super excited at first…. But our excitement faded a bit when it got super windy and we were hiking through wet clouds. We pushed on and hiked up ‘The Devil’s Staircase’ to reach the windiest and highest part of the climb. At the top of the Devil’s Staircase you have the option to take a side track and hike Mount Ngauruhoe aka Mount Doom. On a normal day this is a tough hike because it’s incredibly steep and the volcanic sands/rocks slide down against you as you try and hike up – we were told to be prepared to go 2 steps up and 1 step down the whole way (about an additional 3 hours climb on top of the 6 hour climb we were already doing). We thought we might try originally but because of the heavy clouds our driver advised against it as we could literally fall off the mountain.
We continued along the trail passed the Red Crater (midway point) and FINALLY got a sunny break. It was still crazy windy and we were still amidst the clouds but the sped passed us pretty quick. Between the clouds that passed we were able to get a glimpse at the STUNNING Emerald Lakes. These lakes are incredible because they are just these little sulphur pools that reflect the colour of the sky and turn these vibrant shades of jade. The other cool part is that these lakes have nothing around them other than just volcano, sands, and rock so the contrast is amazing! The hike down to the lakes is all scree (volcanic sandslide) which was slightly terrifying but because we were so excited to see some sunshine and the beautiful lakes we both scrambled down the hills almost somersaulting a couple of times.
The rest of the hike was a lot easier after the first half…mostly descending the volcanoes. When we got to Ketetahi Shelter we had a gourmet lunch of ham and cheese on bread paired with divine orange Gatorade.
Because we started so early in the morning we ended up being finished around 1:30 and had to wait about an hour for the bus to pick us up.
While we didn’t have the best weather and it was a tad expensive I am SO HAPPY we did the hike. It was definitely a challenge but so worth it. It’s these kind of hikes that I really love because you it just leaves you in total awe as to what Mother Nature is capable of. It also makes a post-hike hot shower and coffee feel like the ultimate luxury!
Still on my post-hike high, Rachel and I made a big bowl of pasta for dinner and are now sitting in a cute little cafe stealing their wifi and drinking hot sweet bevvies.
Sending some mountain love back to all of you! ❤️xxx